After two-and-a-half years of being locked down in isolation due to Covid-19, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that individual well-being is now firmly on top of the mental health agenda.
Taking care of the human mind as well as the body not only helps maintain good health, but also keeps us happy, makes us feel in control and ensures we have the tools and support to successfully overcome difficulties and achieve what we want out of life.
Larry Soffer, the leading mentalist in Africa, explains that during the recent pandemic, both resources and options were few. Many people were forced to take things into their own hands, finding new ways to entertain themselves, especially after the lure of Netflix wore off. “I saw so many of my friends and family start baking banana breads, take up gardening, or start a new hobby like making jewellery or creating pottery. A few have since turned these side hustles into profitable businesses which is just amazing,” he laughs.
Now that we have been unmasked, and things are open and almost back to normal, Larry and many like him hope that people go back to being entertained in the ways they know and love. Even at a time when many South Africans are tightening their financial purse strings due to the escalating cost of living, the important role the entertainment industry can play in helping improve and support mental health and wellbeing cannot be overlooked.
“It really is a gamechanger. After all, they do so say that laughter is the best medicine, and you can see why. Entertainment, especially live entertainment, is the ultimate feel-good factor and the perfect way of escaping from our everyday routines. It is also about sharing elements of fun and lightness and emotional connection with a room full of others,” he adds.
5 reasons why entertainment is so important to mental health and well-being:
1. We just can’t help ourselves: We can trace entertainment back to the first and second centuries where hand puppets, storytelling, music and dance was very much a part of the social fabric of society. Entertainment has always been a part of who we are as humans, and Larry says it is because we desire fun and laughter in our lives.
2. We are wired to seek out things that bring us joy: And, being entertained delivers this in truckloads! You only need to look at a young infant to see what I mean. They get so much joy from simply watching a cartoon on TV, playing peek-a-boo with an adult, or even from seeing their own reflection in a mirror. It’s all entertainment for them and it can bring them hours of fun and laughter.
3. We always need a break from reality: We get so consumed by everyday stressors that we long for those small moments or activities that relieve us from that. For some, it helps to spend time in the gym, while others might want to be outside at one with nature. Entertainment is different, because it has the possibility to transport us out of our everyday mundane lives and into a world where we can experience magic and mystery, and where we can believe in the impossible.
4. Entertainment works around you: From comedians, singers and ventriloquists to dancers, musicians, and magicians, pretty much all artists had some form of online offering during the lockdown. Some were conducted in their living rooms, others on balconies or gardens, but all happened because as entertainers, we understand the need to spread joy and positivity during very difficult times.
5. As humans we naturally gravitate to positivity and the desire to be uplifted: How many of us live for the weekend so that we can plan something fun, different, and exciting over our two free days? We do it, because we get so much positive energy from a good experience or from being with good people. If you’re feeling happy and positive, you’re likely to radiate and transfer these happy feelings to someone else – like a domino effect, which is a great way of elevating everyone’s mental health and well-being.